3D-printed material could makes future homes more energy efficient

3D-printed material could makes future homes more energy efficient

Photo courtesy of the Merkle

3D printing is still a niche market among consumers. Researchers and scientists have used large-scale 3D printers to produce innovative solutions from which everyone can benefit. 

Dutch researchers recently came up with a way to potentially change the way homes are built years from now, reports the Merkle. They used a 3D-printed facade to optimize a building’s thermal performance, although Spong3D is not ready for mass production just yet.

The way houses and apartments are built has not changed all that much over the past few decades. Bricks, mortar and insulation are still the main components of every new structure. However, there are still a lot of improvements to be made, and it appears a 3D printed solution could be the missing piece of the puzzle. 

That is what researchers in the Netherlands firmly believe, at least.

A collaboration between students at the Universities of Delft and Eindhoven has yielded some unexpected results. They came up with a way to 3D print a facade system viable for constructing houses and apartments alike. This material, known as Spong3D, can be adapted to different climate conditions and optimizes the building’s thermal performance. 

In hotter regions the facade provides ventilation, whereas colder regions require a version which keeps heat trapped inside at all times.

Spong3D is installed inside a wall. It will not replace the way walls are built, although compound walls will look a lot different thanks to Spong3D. The main benefit of the new material is that not only can it be 3D printed with relative ease, it can be produced with a complex structure that completes various thermal functions. Thermal insulation and heat storage are two examples. Being able to store heat within one’s walls would be significant.

Moreover, the material gives building occupants more control over the heat exchanged between the interior and exterior. Right now, that is pretty much impossible to achieve, as the building itself can be prone to small gaps through which air and heat travel freely, experts say. 

A more energy-efficient solution, such as Spong3D, would prevent occupants from overpaying for heat and electricity, since everything would be more efficient.

Although the seasons change throughout the year, the internal climate of a building could be maintained at all times using Spong3D. The technology also has the potential to decrease any negative environmental impact from a particular building, and the energy requirements for heating and air conditioning will be severely affected. But it will take years, if not decades, before any major changes occur, experts say.

The still needs to be optimized and modified accordingly. An initial test was recently successful, but it was performed within a controlled environment. It remains to be seen how the material performs when used in the real world, and those results could be different.

Topics: Architectural Firms, Construction Firms, Consulting - Green & Sustainable Strategies and Solutions, Energy Saving Products, Engineering Firms, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), Insulation, Interiors, Multifamily / Multiunit Residential, Technology, Thermal Envelope - Building Envelope, Wall Systems / Curtain Walls

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